Nashville school shooting timeline: How the Tennessee massacre unfolded

America suffered its latest outbreak of deadly gun violence on Monday morning when a shooter broke into The Covenant School in the Green Hills suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, and shot dead six people, including three children aged nine.

Police arrived quickly at the scene and shot dead the suspect, later named as Audrey Elizabeth Hale, 28, a former student at the private Christian elementary school.

The three child victims have since been identified as students Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney.

Three adults – head teacher Katherine Koonce, 60, and staff members Cynthia Peak and Mike Hill, both 61 – were also killed by the shooter, who was armed with two assault rifles and a handgun.

The shooting marks the 376th mass shooting at a US school since the notorious Columbine massacre of 1999, according to a Washington Post database, and follows a spate of recent incidents at American schools, including the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last May, a first-grade student shooting his teacher in Virginia and a shooting in Denver, Colorado just last week in which two school administrators were wounded.

As new details about the killer’s life and possible motive come to light, here’s what we know so far about the timeline of the mass shooting:


Nashville’s NewsChannel5 has reported that Hale sent a series of chilling Instagram messages to a former middle school basketball teammate, Averianna Patton, just prior to the shooting spree to say a “last goodbye”.

Hale wrote to Patton explaining that a recent post on the platform had been “basically a suicide note”, adding: “I’m planning to die today. THIS IS NOT A JOKE!!!! You’ll probably hear about me on the news after I die.”

When Patton responded, urging Hale to reconsider and arguing “you have so much more life to live”, Hale expressed resolve and said: “I wanted to tell you first because you are the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen and known all my life.”

More ominously, Hale added: “One day this will make more sense. I’ve left behind more than enough evidence behind. But something bad is about to happen.”


Alarmed by the messages, Patton subsequently told NewsChannel5 that she contacted the Suicide Prevention Help Line to try to get help.

“Audrey has shared with others that she had been suicidal in the past and I knew to take this serious,” she said.


As revealed by security footage later released by the Metro Nashville Police Department, Hale is seen driving to the school in a silver Honda Fit.

Hale parks in the car park and enters the school by a side door, by shooting through the glass double doors.

Once inside, Hale is seen roaming the corridors in search of victims for around 17 minutes. Hale wears combat trousers, a vest and a red baseball cap turned backwards.


Police receive the first 911 call alerting officers to an active shooter at the school/


Ms Patton calls the Nashville Davidson County Sheriff’s Office to report the Instagram messages but is told to contact the city’s non-emergency number instead.

She does and she is kept on hold for seven minutes before she can speak to someone, she tells NewsChannel5.

She is told an officer will be sent to her house but this does not happen until 3.29pm that afternoon.


After killing six people inside The Covenant School, the suspect is shot dead by a team of five attending police officers on the school’s second floor.

The officers had responded to the scene and Hale allegedly opened fire on an arriving police cruiser from an upper window, piercing its windshield.

As they clear the first floor and search the classrooms and hallways for the shooter, officers hear shooting on the second floor. Moving upstairs, they encounter Hale and fatally shoot the gunman.


The school first reports the incident on social media and the incident makes headlines around the world.


At the White House, President Joe Biden calls the attack “heartbreaking, a family’s worst nightmare.”

He continues: “We have to do more to stop gun violence. It’s ripping our communities apart, ripping the soul of this nation, ripping at the very soul of the nation.

“And we have to do more to protect our schools so they aren’t turned into prisons.”


Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake gives an initial afternoon press conference about the shooting.

Other updates are given in which he identifies the shooter and victims and says Hale left behind a manifesto and a map of the school.

Surveillance video capturing the shooter at the scene is also released.

Chief Drake later tells NBC that “resentment” may have been a factor in Hale’s motivations, commenting: “There’s some belief that there was some resentment for having to go to that school… She targeted random students in the school...

“Whoever she came in contact with, she fired rounds.”